I was born with no hair and was the size of a basketball. My father said. “Put him back,” while my mother prayed to God to look after me. I heard from the family that I was a handful, well two handfuls. It was said that I would not eat my pabulum. Instead, I would throw it, or mash it into my face, my clothes, or onto my bald head. I was not house broken, potty trained, until a late age, I was lazy. I would rather crawl than walk. “He’s a stubborn one.” My father would say. My mother being angelic prayed for help.
I hated reading or having someone read to me. Throwing the book was more fun. Then it happened. Even I noticed the change. By the time I was eight years old I was reading stories about pirates and buried treasures. WOW! I thought. This stuff is really exciting. I began to make believe I was a pirate. My friends and I would bury coins pretending they were treasures. I was calming down and not being such a “doozy bots”, as my Italian father would call me. God must have been answering my mothers prayers. My father went from saying. “He’s a stubborn one,” to “maybe there’s hope for him after-all.” But, the adventurous, and frisky me returned when my testosterone level peaked.
At the age of ten, I was shooting craps and playing poker for school lunch money. I must have been a darn good gambler. I remember the parents of kids telling my parents that they did not want me taking their children’s money. Then the school principal got involved. He told my parents, “Frankie is playing poker and shooting craps inside the boy’s rest room.”
As a teenager, I fell in love with every pretty girl in school. At age sixteen I passed my road test and purchased my first car. I saved some money while working after school. My 1955 Chevy was a magnet for attracting those girls I loved.
When not dating I was cruising the city streets at night, drag racing and going to school dances. During the warm months, I shot rats with my .22 rifle, hiked, and camped in the woods. I fished for carp and northern pike and continued to read books about pirates and buried treasures.
However, the excitement of my young life contrasted with the seriousness of that time. There was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Russia was building nuclear missiles and wanted to destroy America. The Vietnam War was killing my friends and thousands of others. They were the horrors of my young life. And to make things worse, the ice age was coming. Every night the news on TV showed stories that America was going to freeze solid and that millions would die within twenty years. I was confused. I didn’t know who or what to believe. What I did know, was that a change in my life was needed.
Shooting craps, flipping coins, playing poker, and shooting pool for beers and cigarettes was only going to send me in a direction that someday I would regret. Besides, my draft number was about to be called. So I did what thousands of others at my age were doing. I went into the military.
At seventeen, I joined the Air Force. I loved airplanes. Building model planes made of wood and plastic was a favorite past time. The Air Force recruiter told me that enlisting would assure me of being a jet engine mechanic. I soon found out that he pulled a fast one. He played me as if I was a 2-bit poker player. After basic training, the Air Force assigned me to a Titan II Missile outfit in Arizona. “No. No.” I screamed to my CO (Commanding Officer). “This is wrong. The Air Force made a mistake. I’m supposed to be a jet engine mechanic. I’m gonna call my Congressman.” Well, my tantrum fell on deaf ears. Off to the desert of Arizona I went. I was now a Titan II Missile Maintenance technician in the Strategic Air Command, SAC.
During that time, I read stories about the various treasures in that part of the country. I was fascinated by the adventures of the treasure hunters that were locating hoards of all kinds. Treasures were being found in mines, and old ghost towns, inside old settlers homes, and in caves. Those stories were seeds planted within me, which would later grow into exciting adventures.
After being discharged from the Air Force, I moved from job to job. That’s when I realized how independent I was. I did not like the idea of a boss or a company controlling my earnings, my life, or how I should work. So I decided to sell insurance. That career choice gave me the freedom to control my work schedule and my income. I was more or less my own boss. It was up to me to do the things I needed to do to survive financially. Besides, now married meant more financial responsibility.
During this time my interest in treasure hunting peaked. I was reading every treasure hunting and metal detecting magazine I could get my hands on. I read books about treasures and stories about pirates. I read one after the other. I saved the magazines and books. I kept notes and files for future research. It was the beginning of the creation of my large library of information. It was evident to me that even though I had not yet owned a metal detector, that someday I was going to be a treasure hunter.
A few years after I began selling insurance I decided to open an insurance agency. By that time, I became licensed to sell investments. I opened a Financial Planning Service as a subsidiary. It was shortly after I started my agency, that I purchased my first metal detector. Soon, every free minute I had was being filled with metal detecting. Finding old “stuff” consumed me. My detector was with me when I traveled to appointments. It was with me on vacations. My detector had its own resting place in my vehicles. I treated it like a friend. It was part of my family.
During the time I was learning the hobby I was continuing to devour treasure hunting books and magazines. Also, I begin to read the history of my area. I realized the importance of knowing where past generations frequented the outdoors. Those areas were ripe with lost coins and jewelry.
In those early years while working my business I continued to metal detect part-time. But, I then realized that I was becoming bored with locating old silver coins and relics. I now wanted the excitement of searching for and locating a buried treasure. “Why not me?” I asked myself. “If others could locate buried treasures, then so can I. After all, I reasoned. My research information had grown to more than 1000 books, 2000 magazines, and hundreds of files on buried treasure. I had the information to locate treasures. I knew it was time to begin concentrating on buried treasures in my immediate area.
For thirty years I worked my businesses. And then one day after realizing how bored I was, I decided to retire. I was now able to concentrate full time on metal detecting/treasure hunting.
It was also a time when I realized that with all of the information printed in books and magazines about metal detecting, there was not one TV series about the hobby. I knew that the metal detecting community was a huge market. It was worldwide. I believed that the interest for a TV show that depicted the hobby in a real, adventurous, and honest way would be popular among the metal detecting enthusiasts. That was the thought that moved me forward to host and produce the first metal detecting, reality, TV series, “Exploring Historys Treasures.”
The time for such a TV series was right. Reality TV was beginning, and shows like “The Great Race”, and “Survivor” were at the top of the rating charts. Not knowing anything about TV production, I jumped with both feet right into the world of television production.
I also learned fast that “if you aren’t in the club. They aren’t letting you in.” The television industry is the “good ole boys club.” It doesn’t make any difference how good your show is. If your ticket to the club isn’t punched…you ain’t getting a seat. If you are lucky to get into the club to meet with a TV Exec, well you only end up getting the “two-step” the slap on the back, “you got a nice show, we’ll be in touch” kind of drivel. Anyway, in the end, without any help from the “club”, I persevered, and my TV series was broadcast to every State.
Exploring Historys Treasures happened because I went on the offensive. I hired a person to film my show. I made phone calls to TV stations across the country pitching my series. I continued to call TV show buyers. I sold advertising during time slots on my show to help offset my cost to produce it. I did everything I could to promote my TV series in hopes that it would be picked up by a network or cable station. My ace in the hole that I was counting on was the thousands of happy viewers who had watched the show in my local market.
I started to show my series in my own area for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to get an idea on how well it was liked, and second, my cost to show it to my local audience was less expensive. It didn’t take long to answer my first question. As soon as the first episode finished airing, my cell phone rang with call after call. Viewers were telling me how much they loved the show. They were saying, “It’s about time we have a series like this.” “I can’t wait for the next episode.” “You and your co-host John are great together.”
“I love the history you tell about the items you find.” “When’s the next show?”
I was also receiving hundreds of positive emails a day. Every week for thirteen weeks I ran an episode. I knew I had created a TV series that not only the metal detecting community wanted, but history lovers wanted as well. My enthusiasm for Exploring Historys Treasures future was high. Now all I had to do was use those thousands of testimonials to gain the confidence of a major TV show buyer.
When we filmed the series there was no benchmark to go by. I had no one to follow. We were going purely on instinct and my years of experience metal detecting/treasure hunting. But, the one thing I did know, was that my series would not lie to my viewers. If we had to film 10 hours a day to get a half hour show, then we would. My commitment to my viewers was to have an honest, reality, TV series. There would be no planting or seeding of any finds. There would be no jumping up and down yelling “juice” “juice” when we dug a find. Nor would there be any scripting of scenes before filming. I wanted my series to be truthful and real.
Unfortunately, the chances of a TV show produced by an outsider and making it to one of the major networks is mostly impossible. As I mentioned earlier, the TV industry is the “good ole boy” network.
In addition, TV Exec’s only believe in what has already worked. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Stepping outside the box, away from their comfort zone is a no-no. So for two years I sold advertising to continue to pay for my series showing in my State. Although the testimonials continued to pour in, the TV series was yet to be picked up by a network.
Producing a TV series is expensive. Filming all day long added to the cost. But, I wasn’t about to compromise the show with less filming. I believed that the series sooner or later would catch the eye of a smart TV Exec and that it would be purchased for viewing on their network. Hoping to catch a break, I continued to sell advertising locally.
The testimonials continued. I showed them to the networks and cable stations. I showed them to TV show buyers. “My TV series is very popular in one State.” I kept telling them. “Imagine if it were showing in every State.” Unfortunately, their lack of foresight and inability to make a decision on an unknown producer schmuck like me was too much of a chance for them. “We want more poker shows,” they kept telling me. “Poker.” “Poker.” “We want more poker TV.” “Look. I like poker to.” I told them. “I was playing poker before you were even a thought in mommy and daddy’s mind. But I have thousands of testimonials that say viewers want metal detecting TV.” The answer was always “more poker.” That was when I came up with another plan.
I decided to market the TV show to the national audience on my own. This time I spent hours everyday talking to TV show buyers and syndication companies. That persistence paid off. After viewing my TV series and saying, he loved it, a broadcast company contracted with me to air my TV series, once a week, nationally, at prime time. The only downside was that I would need to sell airtime advertising on half my time slots to earn any money. But, that was okay I reasoned. What I wanted was the opportunity to show the series across the country in hopes that someone would pick it up. And, I had another 13 half hour shows already planned. However, I did not have the funds to continue filming. The only way I could film more was to have a buyer for what I had already produced.
For two years Exploring Historys Treasures, TV series, was broadcast on small, independent, cable stations. As the shows were televised, emails from viewers who heard of buried treasures wanted me to help search for them. Also, I was being contacted by people saying they had seen strange looking symbols carved into rocks and trees. They thought the symbols might be indications of a treasure. I traveled and treasure hunted in areas I never thought I would ever get to see. I began writing. I traveled and spoke about buried treasures, American History, codes, symbols, and secret societies. Junior high schools and high schools purchased my DVD’s of Exploring Historys Treasures as a teaching aid for American history classes.
So now here I am. This once bald, basketball sized baby, whose early life was “doozy bots” is now living the adventure always dreamed.
In closing, I direct this statement to those that produce and direct TV shows. I know you visit my website. You search for ideas and stories of mine to use in future productions. You try to gauge the level of viewership that my website draws. You have contacted me for help and advice, and have even asked me to participate in upcoming productions. It is ironic that it was your industry that once told me a “metal detecting or treasure hunting TV series would not work.” Yet in fact, there have been at least a dozen such shows. Perhaps now you realize that I was right. And, there is a need for more of them. But do it right. They should be produced by individuals that are experienced metal detecting/treasure hunters. Otherwise, fuhgeddaboudit! Cause you’ll end up with more of... “Juice. Juice.” And “The Curse of Oak Island”.